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Bowling Four-Step Approach For Seniors

If you are a senior bowler looking to improve your approach, the four-step approach is the easiest to use. Beginning senior bowlers can develop consistent footwork synchronized with a smooth arm swing using this four-step approach. The four-step approach for senior bowlers varies slightly from the approach young adult beginning bowlers are taught.

This article focuses only on the steps taken in a four-step approach. Here are the key components of the four-step approach for senior bowlers:

1. Length of Steps – Use your natural length walking stride for consistent footwork. Begin with the right foot (if you are a right handed bowler) and end with your sliding step on your left foot. Don't bounce or lose balance while walking to the foul line. Bowlers 6 feet in height will typically cover about 11 feet including the slide (plus or minus 6") with a four-step approach.

The set of dots at the mid-point on the approach measures 12 feet from the foul line. Start by aligning the back of the heels of your bowling shoes just in front of these guide dots. You can easily move up or back to compensate for your individual walking stride and slide distance into the foul line. The toe of the sliding bowling shoe should stop 6 inches or less from the foul line.

2. Tempo - Your steps should be slow enough to produce a smooth walking motion to the foul line with a slight heel-to-toe action leading into the slide step. Each step should match in pace with the previous and be fairly uniform in length to prevent loss of balance. The slide step should glide into the approach with the sole and heel of the bowling shoe sliding evenly and smoothly from the momentum built from the first steps. Rushing the slide step, or pushing off too quickly from the step before the slide, can cause a thrusting action into the foul line causing a hurried bowling ball delivery.

Maintain a slight amount of knee flex during the first three steps and allow the knee of your sliding leg to flex slightly more as you begin your slide into the foul line.  The big muscles of your sliding leg provide balance and stability during your slide step and leverage as you transfer momentum from the first three steps into the sliding step.


3. Direction– Walking straight lines to the foul line is vital to achieving accuracy when delivering the ball. A good objective for new bowlers is to walk as straight of a line as possible and to end on the same board with the sliding shoe as the board it was originally positioned on during the set-up position.  This applies regardless if you are bowling for strikes or spares, or where you are aligned on the approach.


Avoid drifting from walking a straight line on the approach. Each step should be measured in length and placed directly under the center of the body for maximum balance. Limiting the amount of drift, either to the left or to the right, to about two boards from the initial set-up alignment will also help the arm swing seek a path toward your sighting target on the lane.

These components of good footwork will help you establish a solid four-step bowling approach resulting in consistency and accuracy.  You also need to coordinate your arm swing with these steps.  We recommend you consult with an experienced bowling instructor to teach you how to coordinate your swing with your steps.  We also highly recommend getting a good pair of bowling shoes right away, if you have not yet done so.